CONFLUENCE: 2021 Artists-in-Residence Biographies

Harriet Schwarzrock

As a visual artist interested in biological systems and connectivity, Schwarzrocks practice has recently embraced creating neon and plasma elements. This vibrant form of illumination has developed in step with her material knowledge of glass. Drawn to glass’ ability to contain and give form to the invisible, recent explorations have embraced interactive illumination to describe the subtle electricity within our bodies.

Graduating from Sydney College of the Arts in the late 90’s, she is currently a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Schwarzrock has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and abroad. Assisting regularly and refining her glassblowing, through participating in masterclasses, being mentored and learning from her esteemed friends and colleagues. Whilst developing skills and inspiration for her own work. Her practice is currently based in Queanbeyan, NSW, in a home studio where she and her partner Matthew Curtis run a hot glassblowing studio.

Her work is widely collected, and she has won various awards and been selected for prestigious residencies, including Canberra Glassworks Art Group Fellowship, the Asialink Toyama residency and the ANU Procter Fellowship. Recently her public artwork ‘murmuration’ secured the ACT’s Pamille Berg; Art in Architecture award. Her illuminated plasma heart installations have been exhibited at the Canberra Glassworks, the Berengo studio; Venice, Murano and the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Her practice draws upon cycles of respiration and circulation, embodied yet often invisible. Schwarzrock is magnetically drawn to the material language and plasticity of molten glass for its ability to give form to these intangible cycles. Fascinated by its ability to contain the ethereal, whilst continuing to learn about this exacting material has become a catalyst to explore interactive illumination.

Valerie Kirk OAM

Valerie Kirk is a Scottish born artist who now lives and works in Australia. She explores ideas about moving between two countries, identity and place in the world in relation to location and the perspective of time.

Kirk completed a degree and post graduate studies in art, design and woven tapestry at Edinburgh College of Art, and was given the HRH Prince Charles Award and the Helen Rose Bequest Award, then studied at Goldsmith’s College, University of London, ATC and University of Wollongong, MA(Hons).

She came to Australia to weave the commissioned Yalla Yalla Gibbs tapestry at the Victorian (now Australian) Tapestry Workshop and continues the relationship now as an ATW board member.

In the 1980s she travelled the country to teach with the Crafts Council of Australia in remote and Indigenous communities, schools, colleges, universities and the Flying Art School; was as an artist-in-residence in Busselton, WA and Portland, Victoria and lead community tapestry projects.

From1990-2017 Valerie Kirk was a Senior Lecturer and Head of Textiles at the Australian National University and between 2004-2019 the university commissioned her to design and weave six major tapestries to celebrate Nobel/Japan/Kyoto Prizes in Science.

While actively maintaining her practice as an artist, Kirk has researched Australian Indigenous textiles, taught silk painting at Kintore and tapestry at Indulkana, directed significant projects, curated exhibitions and lectured at conferences and on international textile tours.

Major works were exhibited in So Fine at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2018, Weaving x Living, Cite International des Arts, Paris (during her residency), Project Baa Baa, Ireland, 2020 and Make the World Again, Canada 2020. Her career highlights include winning the To Furnish a Future design competition for Government House, Sydney and working with the International Fiber Art Biennales, China as an exhibiting artist, speaker and judge.

Awards such as the Australia Council New Work grant, ACT Creative Arts FellowshipMuse Arts Woman of the Year Award and the Canberra Centenary Community Tapestry Project mark substantial success and her artwork is held in Australian and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia.

Image 1: Harriet Schwarzrok, Transitory, 2022. Photo: Brenton McGeachie
Image 2: Valarie Kirk, Plant Fossil, 2022 Photo: Fiona Bowring
Cover image: Harriet Schwarzrok + Valerie Kirk OAM, Namadgi National Park, 2021. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist